Eric Tinkler believes a full pre-season and the club's signings have been the difference. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – In the wake of his team’s resurgence this season, Maritzburg United coach Eric Tinkler believes having a full pre-season with the team and the signings the club made during the pre-season have been the difference.

There’s been a cloud of resounding belief hovering over the Team of Choice this season - they’ve outdone themselves by sitting sixth on the log standings thanks to seven wins, nine draws and five loses.

Maritzburg saved their top-flight football status on the last day of the season and via the play-offs in the last two campaigns. However they had a rocky start, going winless in their first four matches of the season.

“It’s the fact that I’ve had a pre-season with them (the team). The second point is that we had 14 new signings; it’s going to take time for them to adapt and learn to play as the team,” Tinkler said after a 1-0 away victory over Bidvest Wits on Wednesday night.

“It wasn’t a case of us playing poorly in those first four games. I go back to those games and think that we could have won all of them. That was how well we were playing and the opportunities that we were creating but we just didn’t get the result. So, we just stuck to what we were doing and the players started to believe in that.”

The Team of Choice may not be getting carried away by their resurgence, but they’ve increased the volume on the “outside noise” that they can defeat any team on the day, especially after reaching their second cup final in two years.

In December, Maritzburg lost the Telkom Knockout final 2-1 to Mamelodi Sundowns. However there was a sense of pride in how they defeated Kaizer Chiefs, who were looking unstoppable, in the semi-finals.

Later, in a home league game, the Team of Choice held Amakhosi 1-1.

Chiefs will be hoping to bring the Team of Choice to their knees when they welcome them to the FNB Stadium tomorrow (6pm kick-off). But that’s easier said than done especially after Tinkler admitted his troops were already pumped up for the game.

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“We want to climb that table as much as we can. We’ve got a lot of tough games that are coming up and we’ve also got important ones that are at home, against Polokwane (City),” he said.

“But the next one that’s away is against Chiefs and I know that the players are highly motivated for that. We’ve got a good spell against them this season, so the morale is going to be high.”

@Mihlalibaleka

 

The Star

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